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Working at home - or not


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See this https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56535575

tbh I'm having trouble the other way round. Lots of employers are saying "you can work at home for now but as soon as lockdown is lifted we want you back in the office", to which I say "If I can work at home while there is a lockdown, why can't I work at home when there isn't one" and the response is usually predicated on the idea of people bouncing ideas off each other and helping each other when they sit near each other. If other people are only a phone call/email/mickeysoft teams conversation away, I don't see the physical presence as an advantage worth travelling to work for. I get way more done when I don't have any interruptions and I'm happy to save questions for a "time for asking questions" instead of interrupting people willy-nilly. I do get, however that

  • more technical problems were solved around Table 3 in the ICL Staff Club Bar than ever there were in the meeting rooms during the day
  • sometimes you need to be in the lab to use specialist test or diagnostic equipment which you are unlikely to have at home

Does anyone have strong opinions either way?

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I would like a split between home/office working. Hopefully that is the way things are headed for us but our senior managers can change their minds without explanation or reason. Plus there's the advantages to the environment and our office is a bit of a dirty sh!t hole, well worth avoiding where possible.

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I had retired but when I moved to the West Midlands from the South East I was approached by an Industrial Automation company who asked if I would be interested in conducting spectroscopic lab experiments for them as the had chemometricians and programmers but no one with spectroscopy lab experience. Its just part time and hours to suit myself and its working out pretty well. They have supplied some equipment which I have in a spare bedroom and I work from there. Very occasionally I will have to go into work but there rest is done over Teams and email. It seems to be working out pretty well. I was getting bored being retired.

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Lovely broadway.......been through there a few times...well hundreds really.......:love:

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I think working from home has more advantages and really depends on the staff that you employ. The company I work for in London (a Lloyd's insurance syndicate) have had far greater success in the last 12 months than they could have imagined. But this is down to the dedicated staff who I suspect are mostly fed up with the typical London commute and have taken the opportunity to prove that working from home can work. 

In recent discussions it seemed clear to me that they are not looking to go back to how it was before and will probably meet as a team once a week and then leave it to each team member to manage their own working. 

Having spoken to a lot of bosses of other companies the experience has been similar barring the odd rogue employee. I have always felt that there is more to be gained from independent working - so long as the goals are clear and transparent and the employee feels supported then it has to be a positive. Many bosses I have spoken to have felt they have more time for their teams as they are not bogged down in ad hoc meetings and their days are actually more structured. Additionally, there are no office politics to manage which is always a bonus. 

I think if we go back to the old ways of working we are missing a huge opportunity. 

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most of the folks i have spoken to are pleased with the reduction in commuting , but my mrs found it very hard on the back sitting down teaching on zoom all day . she was thrilled to be back in the classroom seeing real people . 

its certainly made it easier for me arranging engineers etc for repairs , folks are at home and makes life easier  

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The Company I work for is based in Vienna and has people working remotely all over Europe. By being remote, we are not limited to only employing from the local gene pool, but also we can be family/life friendly. I will never commute to an office again. I'm lucky in that my profession (software development) can be done anywhere and Brexit has made us very popular with the US/EU as the £ has been devalued.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There are positives and negatives.

The positives;

For me, it has extended my working life.  I was having to get up at around 4:50 am to make it in to work for 7 am.  I probably wouldn’t have kept that going for much longer.

It’s a lot cheaper for companies and probably more than halves the cost to employ.

It helps the local high street rather than the city centre.

Myself and Mrs HHM save around £350 a month between us in transport.   That must have a carbon benefit.

It allows an increasing number of people to move out of London.  London has its place but it was getting crazy and wasn’t really working well for anyone.

The negatives;

We are teaching management that outsourcing works well.  If I can do my job from home, so can someone in Mumbai.

Training is difficult.  OK if you’re at the end of your career but otherwise not.

Employers will work out that WFH is a benefit and will price it in to salaries as such.  Employers pay the minimum that they can get away with and won’t let this one get away from them.

If you’re a manager, having staff WFH increases your workload.  Dealing with underperforming employees becomes a lot more difficult.

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On 27/03/2021 at 16:38, ian917 said:

I'm lucky in that my profession (software development) can be done anywhere.

I agree, most of it can. But if you need specialist diagnostic or test equipment you need to go to the lab. Some companies won't put their new PCB in the post for you to integrate your new software onto it. I've found the main problem is management: they'll say something like "You can work at home until the lockdown is lifted; after that we want you back on site". So I'm like you, I'm damned if I'm driving to a company's site every day to do something with a computer on a desk that I could equally well do at home. It's crazy - what has 30 years of working in the telecomms industry achieved if most of us still have to drive to work?

In my last job, the bloke I reported to was on another company site a day's drive away anyhow so when they asked us to take the laptops home it was a huge bonus to save on time and petrol ... you only had to put a jumper on over your pyjamas to have a Mickey$oft teams meeting, instead of driving to work then having the same meeting at your desk! 

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On 26/03/2021 at 14:53, HouseElf said:

I think working from home has more advantages and really depends on the staff that you employ. The company I work for in London (a Lloyd's insurance syndicate) have had far greater success in the last 12 months than they could have imagined. But this is down to the dedicated staff who I suspect are mostly fed up with the typical London commute and have taken the opportunity to prove that working from home can work. 

I remember going there years ago in Piper Alpha days and offices were £100 per square foot; pretty good incentive to work from home!

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I’ve been working a mix of from home and on site fir 12 months now .....but remote viewing of the inside of food factories can be a bit hit/miss and we don’t get the environmental clues (smell, temp feel) from a person live streaming from an iPhone.  The biggest deficit is human interaction/body language as if I spot an issue the site team can see my body language and I see theirs etc and each of us knows what direction the issue is going even before questions are asked.

but remote working has kept me employed and the food supplied to you safe to eat.

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I've been working from home for a long time before the coronavirus effect, but with family and friends in a variety of industries, and from personal experience in various fields, I can see the positives and the negatives.

For me, I don't miss working in an office and I'd never do it again, because I don't have to. For a while I've been in industries and sectors where there is no need for face-to-face contacts with clients, and as most of my customer base is spread around the world, it would anyway be impossible. I suppose I slightly miss the office banter, but I don't miss the office politics and I definitely don't miss the commute. At the end of my last 'head office' situation, my commute was around3-4 hours a day at the sort of variable times that made anything but car use impossible. Now, it's five minutes, assuming I stop for a coffee and a wee on the way.

On the other hand, youngest sproglette is a teacher and says that reading body language and the 'feel' of a classroom is near essential. Middle one is a medical researcher and her company has decided working from home is now pretty much permanent, apart from the odd meeting and the occasional bit of lab work. Eldest is in software development and they're the same. To their employers, office space was a massive cost that can now be minimised. Staff 'attendance' does not appear to have suffered in most cases, and general reports seem to suggest that mostly productivity has actually improved. The paranoid office managers who were presumably convinced everyone would be slacking without the constant breathing down the neck seem to have been proven wrong. Which is excellent, as many companies can get rid of the unproductive office managers. There will be some who will try to 'get away with it', but they'd have been unproductive one way or another no matter what.

The downsides are that for people starting off in work and life, finding a property large enough to actually have a suitable space to work from home is going to be an issue. Of course, without the need to be close to the office, it's far easier to move somewhere a lot cheaper anyway.

It's good for the ecology and reducing pollution, good for mostly reducing stress and good for giving people a better work/life balance. We're in 2021, not 1850. We don't need the manager of the mill watching us constantly to make sure we fulfil our quota.

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Our youngest has been working from the dining room for a year, she really doesn't want to go back to an office to be around 9 other germ ridden millennials selling insurance.

Just put an offer in for a house  within walking distance of the office but it'll be a secret.

Top of the sales ranking quite a few weeks so it hasn't reduced productivity.

Couldn't have done it without fast broadband though.

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32 minutes ago, timmytiger said:

Our youngest has been working from the dining room for a year, she really doesn't want to go back to an office to be around 9 other germ ridden millennials selling insurance.

Is the problem that they're

germ-ridden

millenials

or insurance-salesmen?

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I said this in the Welcome back to the Wam thread but it's just as relevant here:

I've just scored a job with a company who I had thought would be too inflexible, but the deal is now the annual salary I asked for + permi t&c + 100% remote working so I'm dead chuffed. One of the guys interviewing me was a chap I worked for about 25 years ago and he has my respect both technically and as a man-manager. I had to do some "exercises" in C, and apparently they liked my code. :)

tbh I can't believe my luck. It's almost everything I ever wanted, and where there's an aspect that in an ideal world might be considered a drop-off, I can live with it for the benefits of the rest of the deal. To be specific, there's less "original design" content in this job: it involves bug fixing and maintenance of an existing product plus integration of 3rd party software modules into it, which given the choice in an ideal world I wouldn't do but I've done it before and it does require a certain amount of design ingenuity.

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